Do you know Taiyaki?
Recently in Tokyo, I come across with a seen where many visitors from abroad making line in front of a Taiyaki shop.
Taiyaki in Japanese literally means a Japanese fish cuisine ( but it isn’t).In short it is a fish shaped cake. The dough is made from wheat flour, baking soda and sugar. Inside of it contains sweetened red bean paste. Then the cake is baked. (Not even a fragment of fish is included).
The word “Tai” stands for a kind of fish called sea bream or snapper in English.
Historically in Japan, the fish has been regarded as a lucky fish and is served on celebration days. Happy is “Mede-tai” in Japanese, and as the ending part “tai” resembles Tai=sea bream, the fish became special.
The above is the reason why Taiyaki copied the shape of the fish, although no fish meat is included in it.
How to bake
Roughly, there are two ways of baking Taiyaki:
One is the traditional way to bake the dough one at a time using a mold which consists of two parts – an upper part and a bottom part – and they will become a set to form the fish.
Another is to use a large iron plate having many fish shape-hollows that could bake multi number of Taiyaki at once by pouring dough into it.
Among Japanese Taiyaki lovers, the former method is called “Natural”, and the latter, “Cultivation”, while comparing with fish industry.
Most likely the one you have enjoyed eating should be baked in the latter style. The former way could only bake one at a time, and the mold is heavy so difficult to handle, and only limited number of shops adopt the former. For this reason almost all of Taiyaki shops operating abroad are of the latter type.
Connoisseurs love this “Natural” style because it could bake Taiyaki with higher heat, which make the skin crispier. Please try this one while you are staying in Japan.
Apart from the baking theory, Weather the bean paste should go inside the tail-fin section or not is another important argument point among intellectuals. Japanese is really particular about foods,
“Swim Mr. Taiyaki” is a song which theme is about Taiyaki, has been regarded as the best selling single disc for the past 40 years.